If you care about animals, does it follow that you don’t care about people?

Dog giving a high five

Though I've never understood that line of reasoning, I know from my own experience there are those who believe it to be true. And whenever I write about volunteering to help animals or donating to animal-related charities, I hear from those people, and they’re outraged. They resent so much as one thin dime being used to help animals instead of people, and they share that opinion in very strong terms.

Their anger often makes me wonder if there are some deep-seated emotional problems on their part, especially when they refer to animal lovers as “freaks” and pets as “parasites.” Over the years, I’ve seen far worse insults thrown at me for admitting I care about animals — and for suggesting you should care, too.

Honestly, these critics lose all credibility when they accuse me of preferring pets over children. That would be news to my wife, the two children we’ve raised together and the 2-year-old granddaughter we’re now spoiling as only grandparents can. And the animals of our Almost Heaven Ranch? Why, they’re family, too. As in “in addition to,” not “instead of” children.

Taking Care of The Entire Family

But there’s an even bigger reason why such criticism has never concerned me and certainly hasn’t changed the way I live my life. I know my words and deeds prove I am more than capable of caring about animals and people. And so are all the animal lovers I know. Helping is helping, and there are no lesser ways to care about and for others. Two-legged or four-, it really doesn’t matter.

It seems to me that the people who so resent any compassion toward animals know in their hearts what we animal lovers acknowledge readily: Animals are an important part of our lives. That connection I call “The Bond” is one we have never been able to do without. The truth is that animals have always and will always be essential to our lives. And because of that connection, we need to give back to them, as well as take from them what they give to us. And that’s why my family helps animals, even as we help people. To us, it’s all in the family.

How You Can Lend a Hand

This year my daughter, pet trainer Mikkel Becker, and I are holding a second annual Christmas Pawty at the shelters near our homes in North Idaho. We’ll be joining a group of animal-loving friends and colleagues to take gifts to the homeless pets at our three local shelters, part of our effort to bring attention to the pets who’ve been there the longest. Last year, one of those pets went home with me, and this year, I’m hoping others will find their forever homes, too.

We're happy to do our part to help these homeless animals. Can you help by offering a home for a pet who has waited too long to get one?

Other Ways to Help

Of course, adopting a pet is not the only way to help. The holidays are a season of giving, even if part of the reason for that giving is the end-of-year hurry to make donations before, well, the end of the year. Charities know people are looking both for good deeds and tax breaks, and that’s why we see lots of heart-breaking appeals at this time of year.

If you’re having a difficult time making sense of all the charitable appeals, you’ll want to read my next post. I’ll tell you how to make sure you’re donating to an organization that uses your money in ways you find acceptable and how to help even if you haven’t any money to spare.

And, yes, we'll be helping people, too. We always do.